Hadassah leaders and members from across the country took planes, trains and automobiles (and, of course, buses) to proudly participate in the largest pro-Israel rally in US history on Tuesday, November 14, marching among nearly 300,000 supporters on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
With their signs, T-shirts and voices, members sent a clear message: Hadassah stands with Israel.
“We are heartened to stand with hundreds of thousands of Americans as well as leaders across the US and around the world to show our unwavering support for Israel, call for Hamas to release all hostages immediately and condemn the alarming rise in antisemitism,” Hadassah National President Rhoda Smolow and CEO Naomi Adler said in a statement.
Incoming National President Carol Ann Schwartz traveled to Washington from New York on a bus full of new regional presidents from across the country.
“I have attended rallies in the past — nothing was like the exhilaration we experienced standing shoulder to shoulder with our Hadassah family and with our Jewish family from across the United States and around the world. You could feel the light and strength of the 300,000 souls,” Schwartz said.
While in Washington, Schwartz had the opportunity to speak with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), sharing Hadassah’s appreciation for their conviction and support.
“We are each the ambassadors for Zionism,” Schwartz said. “I have always been proud to be a Zionist, to stand up, show up and speak up. Now, more than ever, we must all do the same.”
Against the backdrop of the Capitol, a bipartisan cadre of federal leaders, including Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, spoke about how the US is standing with Israel, the importance of freeing the hundreds of hostages who continue to suffer psychological and physical abuse in Hamas custody and steps we must take to address the alarming spike in antisemitism.
As Hadassah's DC-based director of government relations, a key part of Elizabeth Cullen's job is "bringing the passionate voices of Hadassah members to bear on critical issues in Congress."
"It was wonderful to hear congressional leaders on both sides champion these priorities," Cullen said after attending the march.
“It was energizing to be with almost 300,000 in a peaceful, empowering setting … Jews of all ‘flavors’ standing side by side in support of those values we treasure most, ” said Marcie Natan, who served as national president of Hadassah from 2011-15.
"Hadassah signs were everywhere," said Randi Cohen Coblenz, a Hadassah Education & Advocacy volunteer. "People saw our signs or our T-shirts and came up to share stories of how they were life members, or their bubbies were in Hadassah. Stories that family members share with long-lost cousins."
On the way back to New York on the Hadassah bus, Viviane Kovacs, Hadassah’s national Philanthropy Division coordinator, sent a picture of herself on the Mall to her son. He replied that Sam, her 4-year-old grandson, “will know his Meme as a woman of strong moral fiber who stands by her principles no matter what and who fights for what is right. Sam will know what it is to be a proud Jew.”
“Hadassah has enabled me to be that woman,” Kovacs said.
Hadassah continues to call on Congress to approve security and humanitarian funding for Israel, to demand the immediate release of hostages and to take action to address antisemitism, including by passing the Antisemitism Awareness Act.
Find out more about Hadassah’s war effort on our At War: Heal Israel Now webpage.